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Guru Nanak SAHIB or Guru Nanak DEV?

Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer

Writer
Historian
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Sep 26, 2019
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Guru Nanak's parents named him NANAK. Later on, as a mark of respect, some Sikhs added Sahib as a suffix while others used Baba as a prefix. Most of the earlier writers, however, preferred using Baba Nanak; Sahib too was a later usage. In the second half of the nineteenth century some writers with brahmanic slants began adding the suffix “Dev” to Guru Nanak's name – even if no book, manuscript or verse in the SGGS had ever used DEV for Guru Nanak Sahib.

But, like the usage of 'Sri' in Sikhism, the term DEV was so well popularized by the brahminic writers that a simple minded person considers Guru Nanak's name as incomplete if it were uttered without the suffix of Dev.

THE ILLOGIC OF IT ALL

It has been argued that Dev was added because all other Guru‐names had two words (i.e. Amar Das, Ram Das, Hargobind, Har Rai, Harkrishan, Tegh Bahadur, Gobind Singh). For this reason, then, Dev should be added to the names of the three Gurus who had single names ‐ Nanak, Angad and Arjan).

The logic of changing names of Gurus by adding a self‐coined word to fit such a frivolous requirement is ridiculous, to say the least.

Are these names ‘decoration pieces’ that symmetry has to be established? Why should the real, given and original names of these three Gurus be not preserved? Secondly, it is wrong to say that Hargobind, Harkrishan are names with two words. The reality is that both are one word names too. So why wasn’t there a need to change them to Hargobind Dev and Hakrishan Dev?

It has additionally been argued that the words “Dev” appeared 100 times and its equivalent “Deo” 56 times in the SGGS. For this reason, then, “Dev” and or “Deo” should be accepted by Sikhs.

This again is strange logic, to say the least.

BUT “DEV” IS MENTIONED IN GURBANI! REALLY?

Some researchers have argued that in one of the verses of the SGGS, the name of Guru Arjan Sahib has been mentioned as 'Arjan Dev'. Hence his name should be written as Arjan Dev. And while we are at it, let us add “Dev” to the names of the first two Gurus also.

This verse by Bhatt poet Mathura on page 1409 of the SGGS reads as follows:

ਜਪਉ ਿਜਨ ਅਰਜੁਨ ਦੇਵ ਗੁਰੂ ਿਫਿਰ ਸੰਕਟ ਜੋਿਨ ਗਰਭ ਨ ਆਯਉ ॥

jap‐ya‐o jinh arjun, dayv guroo, fir sankat, jon garabh na aa‐ya‐o.

This verse means that “those who remember GuruDev, as per the teachings of Arjan, do not suffer the fear and pains of rebirth”. Here “Dev” is a part of Guru (Gurdev) and not as suffix of the name of Guru Arjan Sahib.

It is interesting to note that, in the SGGS, the words “Ram” and “Chand” have appeared after the name of Guru Nanak in some instances. Should we accept Chand/Raam as suffix of Guru's name then?

Here is the verse on page 1387 of the SGGS where Ram is referred to as suffix:

ਿਸਖਾ ਸੰਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਭਜੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਮ ਰੰਿਗ ਆਤਮ ਿਸਉ ਰਂਉ ॥ ੨ ॥

sikh‐yaa sant, naam bhaj, naanak, raam, rang aatam si‐o ra‐un.

It means: “Nanak says, (O! man) as per teachings of the God‐oriented persons, realize the Virtues (of God), let your conscience live in love of God”. Here, Ram has been used as one of the names of God and not as a suffix of Guru Nanak.

The verse where Chand is referred as suffix is contained on page 1399 of the SGGS:

ਪਥਮੇ ਨਾਨਕ ਚੰਦੁ ਜਗਤ ਭਯੋ ਆਨੰ ਦੁ ਤਾਰਿਨ ਮਨੁਖ ́ ਜਨ ਕੀਅਉ ਪਗਾਸ ॥

parathmay naanak chand jagat bha‐yo aanand taaran manukh‐y jan kee‐a‐o pargaas.

The meaning of the verse is: First, Nanak is like the resplendant moon, seeing him the world delights; to liberate the human beings, he illuminates our journey.

In the SGGS, the word Nanak appears more than 5100 times and Nanak(i) (short sound ‘i’ before K in Nanak), and Nanak(u) short ‘u’ under K in Nanak) 23 and 50 times respectively; so which spellings should we accept for his proper name, and what is the basis?

Now let us consider the usage of the word “Deo” (2 times after the word Nanak) and “Dev” (3 times after the word Nanak) in the verses of the SGGS. This verse on page 150 of the SGGS reads:

ਿਤਨ ਕਉ ਿਕਆ ਉਪਦੇਸੀਐ ਿਜਨ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਉ ॥ ੧ ॥

tin ka‐o ki‐aa updaysee‐ai jin gur, naanak, day‐o.

This verse means: "Nanak, what sermons can be given to those, who have been blessed and enlightened by the Guru.” Hence “Deo” is a part of Gurdev (gur+dayo)".

Of similar usage is the meaning of the word “Deo” in the verse on page 1102 of the SGGS:

ਬੋਿਹਥੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਉ ਗੁਰੁ ਿਜਸੁ ਹਿਰ ਚੜਾਏ ਿਤਸੁ ਭਉਜਲੁ ਤਰਣਾ ॥

bohith, naanak, day‐o gur, jis har chaṛaa‐ay, tis bha‐ojal tarnaa.

It means: Nanak says, “Gurdev (day‐o gur) is a boat, whomsoever gets to embark it will be ferried across the waters.” Here too “Deo” (day‐o) is a part of Gurdev and not a suffix of Guru Nanak's name. On page 430 of the SGGS, we have this verse:

ਸੋ ਵਸੈ ਇਤੁ ਘਿਰ ਿਜਸੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਸੇਵ ॥ ਅਿਬਚਲ ਨਗਰੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ॥

so vasai it ghar, jis gur pooraa sayv. abichal nagree, naanak, dayv.

This means: Nanak, those whom the perfect Guru blesses with the service of God; his home (heart/mind) becomes (such an abode, i.e. abchal nagri, which is free from vices) where He resides. Here “Dev” has been used for God and not for Nanak or even Guru/Gurdev.

Further, we have these verses on page 1192 of the SGGS.

ਕਬੀਿਰ ਿਧਆਇਓ ਏਕ ਰੰਗ ॥ ਨਾਮਦੇਵ ਹਿਰ ਜੀਉ ਬਸਿਹ ਸੰਿਗ ॥
ਰਿਵਦਾਸ ਿਧਆਏ ਪਭ ਅਨੂਪ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਗੋਿਵੰਦ ਰਪੂ ॥
kabeer dhi‐aa‐i‐o ayk rang. naam dayv har jee‐o baseh sang.
ravidaas dhi‐aa‐ay parabh anoop. gur, naanak, dayv govind roop.

Meaning: Kabir remembered single‐mindedly. (O! God) You dwell in (within the mind of) Namdev. Ravidas remembered the beautiful Master. Nanak says Gurdev is the image of Govind (God)].

In the second line of this verse, Dayv is a suffix of Namdev, but in fourth line Dayv is a part of Gurdev. Similarly, on page 1304 of the SGGS:

ਕਵਨ ਕਹਾਂ ਹਉ ਗੁਨ ਿਪਅ ਤੇਰੈ ॥ ਬਰਿਨ ਨ ਸਾਕਉ ਏਕ ਟਲੁ ੇਰੈ ॥
ਦਰਸਨ ਿਪਆਸ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਮਿਨ ਮੇਰੈ ॥ ਿਮਲੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਜਗਤ ਗੁਰ ਕੇਰੈ ॥
kavan kahaan ha‐o gun pari‐a tayrai. baran na saaka‐o ayk tulayrai.
darsan pi‐aas bahuṯ man mayrai.mil, naanak, dayv jagat gur kayrai.

Meaning: I cannot narrate even some of them. O! my dear, how many of Your attributes, I can relate to? In my mind is great thirst to realize you. Nanak says, O Gurdev of the world (i.e. God), please meet me (i.e. dwell within my mind).

Besides these verses, the words Dev or Deo are found in about 150 verses in the SGGS (pp. 108, 155,405, 469, 479, 522, 694, 795‐96, 871, 943, 1129, 1142, 1149, 1172‐73, 1180, 1183, 1338, 1353, 1389 etc). In all these verses Dev and Deo have been used in the meaning of the Creator Lord or His light and not as suffix of any name (even of the Gurus). For example, we have the following verses on page 405, 522, 943, 1142, 1150 and 1180 respectively of the SGGS:

ਕਾਮੁ ਕੋਧੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਿਬਨਸੈ ਿਮਲੈ ਸਿਤਗੁਰ ਦੇਵ ॥ kaam krodh ahankaar binsai, milai satgur dayv.
With this the cupidity, the anger, the ego vanishes, and one meets the divine Guru.

ਮਿਹਮਾ ਕਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਇ ਗੁਰ ਸਮਰਥ ਦੇਵ ॥ mahimaa kahee na jaa‐ay, gur samrath dayv.

None can say the praise of all powerful, Gurdev.

ਘਿਟਘਿਟਸੁੰਨਕਾਜਾਣੈਭੇਉ॥ ਆਿਦਪੁਰਖੁਿਨਰੰਜਨਦੇਉ॥

ghat ghat sunn kaa jaanai bhay‐o. aad purakh niranjan day‐o.

If one who knows the secret, the void is in all bodies. He is the Primal Purkah, the taintless God.

ਗੁਰ ਜੈਸਾ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੋ ਦੇਵ ॥ ਿਜਸੁ ਮਸਤਿਕ ਭਾਗੁ ਸੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਸੇਵ ॥

gur jaisaa naahee ko dayv. jis masṯak bhaag so laagaa sayv.

None is light (of knowledge) like Guru. One, for whom is preodained, he is serving Him.

ਹਿਰਿਸਮਰਤਿਕਛੁਚਾਖੁਨਜੋਹੈ॥ ਹਿਰਿਸਮਰਤਦੈਤਦੇਉਨਪੋਹੈ॥

har simrat kichh chaakh na johai. har simrat dait day‐o na pohai.

Remembering God one’s evil eye will not touch (see) you. Remembering God, the (fear of) biggest demon (daint day‐o i.e., here, deo/biggest/chief among daints) cannot get hold.

ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਅਿਤ ਲਾਲ ਦੇਵ ॥ rang laagaa at laal dayv.
(I am) in deep red colour (i.e. in deep love) of my God.​

Now, in all these verses Deo/Dev has been used for God Waheguru or His light; and at one place it also means 'chief' (e.g. 'daint' and 'day‐o’ i.e. demons). So Dev/Deo has nothing to do with the name of the Gurus.

In the SGGS, there is a Vaar (ballad) by Satta and Balwand which mentions the names of the first five Gurus. They definitely knew the correct names of the Gurus. But they have not used “Dev” anywhere for any Guru.

Bhatt Baani is also a part of the SGGS. These Bhatts were court poets of the Guru Arjun. Similarly, none of them have used “Dev” for any Guru. Bhai Gurdas, who scribed their verses in the Pothi Sahib and Guru Arjan Sahib who approved the scribe, surely had knowledge of the names of the Gurus. If the suffix “Dev” had been omitted, by Satta‐Balwand or the Bhatts, by error, Guru Arjan or Bhai Gurdas would have corrected it. This proves that Guru Arjan too did not use Dev for any Guru.

The argument that “Dev” should be added to the names of any of our Guru is therefore fallacious.

I was once reminded by the late Sardar Gurmit Singh of Australia of words seemingly appearing as suffixes to Nanak within the SGGS. These words are: Nanak Neech, Nanak Soami, Nanak Saiar, Nanak Sohan, Nanak Sahib, Nanak Sant, Nanak Sadhu, Nanak Sadh, Nanak Sevak, Nanak Giani, Nanak Gur, Nanak Gurmukh, Nanak Yogi, Nanak Jachak, Nanak Jan, Nanak Das, Nanak Dasan, Nanak Data, Nanak Deen, Nanak Bhagat, Nanak Murakh, Nanak Raj, Nanak Ram, Nanak Lal, Nanak Vichara, Nanak Garib, Nanak Chand and more.

Should we then adopt any or all of these as suffixes (like “Dev”) to Guru Nanak’s name?


USAGE OF “DEV” IN NON GURBANI SOURCES

Early sources of Guru Nanak's life include Wilayat Wali Janamsakhi, Meharban Wali Janamsakhi, Bhai Bala Wali Janamsakhi, Bhai Mani Singh Wali Janamsakhi (attributed to him), and Puratan Janamsakhi etc. None of these used “Dev” as suffix of Guru Nanak's name.

The 'ardas', approved by the S.G.P.C. and released from Akal Takht, begins with a stanza from Bachittar Natak Granth BNG (wrongly attributed to Guru Gobind Singh). How and through what conspiracy this stanza became a part of the Sikh Ardas during the Mahants' period is not the subject of this essay; but this 'ardas' too does not use “Dev” as suffix of the name of any Guru:

pirtham bhagauti simar kay gur nanak layee dhiayei. phir angad ṯe gur amardaas, raamdaasay hoyiee sahayei. arjan hargobind no, simrau sri harrai.

In fact, the author of BNG (it is not Guru Gobind Singh) mentions the names of all the Gurus but he too does not use DEV with any Guru's name. Of Guru Nanak, the BNG author writes: Ṯin bedian ki kul bikhayei pragatei nanak Rai. He uses “Rai” and not “Dev”. Clearly then, both these suffixes of Rai and Dev to Guru Nanak’s name are arbitrary additions in recent writings

There is a substantial number of vaars (ballads) in Punjabi which preserve the history of the Guru period. Most of these were written between seventeenth and early nineteenth century.

These include: Raamkali Di Vaar (Satta & Balwand), Vaar Babey Nanak Ji Ki (Bhai Gurdas), Karhkhay Patshah Dasven Kay (Sain Singh), Paurian Guru Gobind Singh Ji Kian (Mir Mushki & Chhabila), Yudh Guru Gobind Singh Ji Ka (Ani Rai), Vaar Patshahi Dasvin Ki (author unknown), Vaar Bhayrei Ki Patshahi Das (author unknown), Vaar Bhangani Ki (author unknown), Yudh‐Charitra Guru Gobind Singh Ji Ka (Veer Singh Ball), Vaar Amritsar Ki (Darshan Bhagat), and Vaar Sarb Loh Ki (author unknown), and Vaar Kalyan Ki (Khushal Chand).

In all of these vaars, nowhere has “Dev” been used as suffix to the name of any Guru.


THE WRITINGS OF BHAI GURDAS

Bhai Gurdas has used the word DEO or DEV in several verses of his vaars e.g. vaar 3 (pauris 2 and 12), vaar 13 (pauri 25), vaar 15 (pauri 2), etc. But in these verses Dev/Deo is not a part of any Guru's name but it means 'manifested'. Further, he has used DEO/DEV in vaar 24 (pauri 25), where the words ‘deo japaiya...’ means ‘the Guru advocated realization of the Creator’ (here “Deo” means God, the Creator). In vaar 28 (pauri 11), 'Dev' means 'devta/god' and it is not a suffix of any Guru's name.

Bhai Gurdas's 1st vaar depicts the life and role of the Guru Sahibs and in the whole vaar the word “Dev” has not been used even once. In this vaar, pauris 23 to 45 are life story of Guru Nanak Sahib and pauris 45 to 48 are about the lives of Guru Angad to Guru Hargobind Sahib. In these 26 pauris too the word “Dev” as suffix is missing.

Surely Bhai Gurdas would not have resorted to writing the incomplete name of Guru Sahibs?


USAGE OF “DEV” IN HISTORICAL SOURCES

The Bhatt Vahis (by various Bhatts, including Mathra and Keerat, the poets of SGGS) and Panda Vahis (of Hardwar, Pehowa, and Mattan etc) were written during the times of Gur Sahibs. None of the entry‐writers of these records used “Dev” for any Guru.

The Sikh history books written during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries include the works by Sainapati, Koer Singh, Kesar Singh Chhibber, Sawrup Singh Kaushish, Ratan Singh Bhangoo, Sukhbasi Ram Bedi etc. None of these has used “Dev” as suffix of the name of any Guru. Dev is missing even from the Nirmala writings.


THE NIRMALAS AND ILLITERATE POLITICIANS ARE RESPONSIBLE

The usage of Dev began with Nirmala and Brahmin writers after 1850s. The first Sikh to popularize it was Nirmala Bhai Veer Singh. Though he used Dev but his action was still not followed up by serious Sikh scholars. It was only after 1972 that “Dev” became an epidemic and Guru Nanak Sahib's name was changed into Guru Nanak Dev.

In 1972, Zail Singh became the chief minister of the Punjab. It was he who changed the name of Guru Nanak University Amritsar into Guru Nanak Dev University. Being illiterate Zail Singh did not have sufficient knowledge of Sikh history or philosophy. He had been a ‘ritual‐performing priest’ but had never done serious study of Sikhism. He was thus not expected to know the real name of Guru Nanak Sahib.

Zail Singh’s lack of literacy is further evident of his decision to change the name of ancient region Rupar into Rupnagar. He believed the name was not RUPAR but RO+PAR meaning 'to begin weeping'). Later, in 1997‐98, chief minister P. S. Badal too followed Zail Singh and changed the name of Guru Nanak Thermal Plant Bathinda to ‘Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant’.

Later, Guru Arjan Sahib and lastly Guru Angad Sahib's names too were changed first by the vedic slant writers and then by novice Sikh writers, and finally by the ignorant Sikh leaders who popularized “Dev” as suffix of the name of Guru Angad Sahib. Manjit Singh Calcutta, the Secretary of the SGPC in 2004, played a major role, under the influence of a particular semi‐literate employee of the SGPC. This practice was then followed by the common folk.

There is a verse on page 767 in the SGGS that depicts the consequences of following un‐enlightened leaders as follows:

ਅੰਧਾ ਆਗੂ ਜੇ ਥੀਐ ਿਕਉ ਪਾਧਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ॥ ਆਿਪ ਮੁਸੈ ਮਿਤ ਹੋਛੀਐ ਿਕਉ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥

andhaa aagoo jay thee‐ai ki‐o paadhar jaaṇai. aap musai mat hochhee‐ai ki‐o raahu pachhaaṇai.

How can a blind leader who is lost in his own ignorance even find his own way, let alone show others the way?

Enlightened Sikhs have continued referring to Guru Nanak, Guru Angad and Guru Arjan Sahib by their authentic and original names.
 

dalvindersingh grewal

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Jan 3, 2010
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I always prefer using Guru Nanak i all my writing since this name is so close to my heart built in me by my parents since childhood. At most some times it is Baba Nanak which is used. Adding suffixes and prefixes to the names of Gurus is a brahminical culture which has been well propagated by our half baked preachers. This is on the increase and fundamentalism is building on this. Guru Nanak or Baba Nanak makes me closer to the Guru and the prefixes and suffixes remove me fro him. We quietly watch these changes failing to oppose the fast development of brahminical culture. It is high time that we stop this and be the true Sikhs of the Guru.
 
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Sikhilove1

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Aug 14, 2019
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Guru Nanak's parents named him NANAK. Later on, as a mark of respect, some Sikhs added Sahib as a suffix while others used Baba as a prefix. Most of the earlier writers, however, preferred using Baba Nanak; Sahib too was a later usage. In the second half of the nineteenth century some writers with brahmanic slants began adding the suffix “Dev” to Guru Nanak's name – even if no book, manuscript or verse in the SGGS had ever used DEV for Guru Nanak Sahib.

But, like the usage of 'Sri' in Sikhism, the term DEV was so well popularized by the brahminic writers that a simple minded person considers Guru Nanak's name as incomplete if it were uttered without the suffix of Dev.

THE ILLOGIC OF IT ALL

It has been argued that Dev was added because all other Guru‐names had two words (i.e. Amar Das, Ram Das, Hargobind, Har Rai, Harkrishan, Tegh Bahadur, Gobind Singh). For this reason, then, Dev should be added to the names of the three Gurus who had single names ‐ Nanak, Angad and Arjan).

The logic of changing names of Gurus by adding a self‐coined word to fit such a frivolous requirement is ridiculous, to say the least.

Are these names ‘decoration pieces’ that symmetry has to be established? Why should the real, given and original names of these three Gurus be not preserved? Secondly, it is wrong to say that Hargobind, Harkrishan are names with two words. The reality is that both are one word names too. So why wasn’t there a need to change them to Hargobind Dev and Hakrishan Dev?

It has additionally been argued that the words “Dev” appeared 100 times and its equivalent “Deo” 56 times in the SGGS. For this reason, then, “Dev” and or “Deo” should be accepted by Sikhs.

This again is strange logic, to say the least.

BUT “DEV” IS MENTIONED IN GURBANI! REALLY?

Some researchers have argued that in one of the verses of the SGGS, the name of Guru Arjan Sahib has been mentioned as 'Arjan Dev'. Hence his name should be written as Arjan Dev. And while we are at it, let us add “Dev” to the names of the first two Gurus also.

This verse by Bhatt poet Mathura on page 1409 of the SGGS reads as follows:

ਜਪਉ ਿਜਨ ਅਰਜੁਨ ਦੇਵ ਗੁਰੂ ਿਫਿਰ ਸੰਕਟ ਜੋਿਨ ਗਰਭ ਨ ਆਯਉ ॥

jap‐ya‐o jinh arjun, dayv guroo, fir sankat, jon garabh na aa‐ya‐o.

This verse means that “those who remember GuruDev, as per the teachings of Arjan, do not suffer the fear and pains of rebirth”. Here “Dev” is a part of Guru (Gurdev) and not as suffix of the name of Guru Arjan Sahib.

It is interesting to note that, in the SGGS, the words “Ram” and “Chand” have appeared after the name of Guru Nanak in some instances. Should we accept Chand/Raam as suffix of Guru's name then?

Here is the verse on page 1387 of the SGGS where Ram is referred to as suffix:

ਿਸਖਾ ਸੰਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਭਜੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਮ ਰੰਿਗ ਆਤਮ ਿਸਉ ਰਂਉ ॥ ੨ ॥

sikh‐yaa sant, naam bhaj, naanak, raam, rang aatam si‐o ra‐un.

It means: “Nanak says, (O! man) as per teachings of the God‐oriented persons, realize the Virtues (of God), let your conscience live in love of God”. Here, Ram has been used as one of the names of God and not as a suffix of Guru Nanak.

The verse where Chand is referred as suffix is contained on page 1399 of the SGGS:

ਪਥਮੇ ਨਾਨਕ ਚੰਦੁ ਜਗਤ ਭਯੋ ਆਨੰ ਦੁ ਤਾਰਿਨ ਮਨੁਖ ́ ਜਨ ਕੀਅਉ ਪਗਾਸ ॥

parathmay naanak chand jagat bha‐yo aanand taaran manukh‐y jan kee‐a‐o pargaas.

The meaning of the verse is: First, Nanak is like the resplendant moon, seeing him the world delights; to liberate the human beings, he illuminates our journey.

In the SGGS, the word Nanak appears more than 5100 times and Nanak(i) (short sound ‘i’ before K in Nanak), and Nanak(u) short ‘u’ under K in Nanak) 23 and 50 times respectively; so which spellings should we accept for his proper name, and what is the basis?

Now let us consider the usage of the word “Deo” (2 times after the word Nanak) and “Dev” (3 times after the word Nanak) in the verses of the SGGS. This verse on page 150 of the SGGS reads:

ਿਤਨ ਕਉ ਿਕਆ ਉਪਦੇਸੀਐ ਿਜਨ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਉ ॥ ੧ ॥

tin ka‐o ki‐aa updaysee‐ai jin gur, naanak, day‐o.

This verse means: "Nanak, what sermons can be given to those, who have been blessed and enlightened by the Guru.” Hence “Deo” is a part of Gurdev (gur+dayo)".

Of similar usage is the meaning of the word “Deo” in the verse on page 1102 of the SGGS:

ਬੋਿਹਥੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਉ ਗੁਰੁ ਿਜਸੁ ਹਿਰ ਚੜਾਏ ਿਤਸੁ ਭਉਜਲੁ ਤਰਣਾ ॥

bohith, naanak, day‐o gur, jis har chaṛaa‐ay, tis bha‐ojal tarnaa.

It means: Nanak says, “Gurdev (day‐o gur) is a boat, whomsoever gets to embark it will be ferried across the waters.” Here too “Deo” (day‐o) is a part of Gurdev and not a suffix of Guru Nanak's name. On page 430 of the SGGS, we have this verse:

ਸੋ ਵਸੈ ਇਤੁ ਘਿਰ ਿਜਸੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਸੇਵ ॥ ਅਿਬਚਲ ਨਗਰੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ॥

so vasai it ghar, jis gur pooraa sayv. abichal nagree, naanak, dayv.

This means: Nanak, those whom the perfect Guru blesses with the service of God; his home (heart/mind) becomes (such an abode, i.e. abchal nagri, which is free from vices) where He resides. Here “Dev” has been used for God and not for Nanak or even Guru/Gurdev.

Further, we have these verses on page 1192 of the SGGS.

ਕਬੀਿਰ ਿਧਆਇਓ ਏਕ ਰੰਗ ॥ ਨਾਮਦੇਵ ਹਿਰ ਜੀਉ ਬਸਿਹ ਸੰਿਗ ॥
ਰਿਵਦਾਸ ਿਧਆਏ ਪਭ ਅਨੂਪ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਗੋਿਵੰਦ ਰਪੂ ॥
kabeer dhi‐aa‐i‐o ayk rang. naam dayv har jee‐o baseh sang.
ravidaas dhi‐aa‐ay parabh anoop. gur, naanak, dayv govind roop.

Meaning: Kabir remembered single‐mindedly. (O! God) You dwell in (within the mind of) Namdev. Ravidas remembered the beautiful Master. Nanak says Gurdev is the image of Govind (God)].

In the second line of this verse, Dayv is a suffix of Namdev, but in fourth line Dayv is a part of Gurdev. Similarly, on page 1304 of the SGGS:

ਕਵਨ ਕਹਾਂ ਹਉ ਗੁਨ ਿਪਅ ਤੇਰੈ ॥ ਬਰਿਨ ਨ ਸਾਕਉ ਏਕ ਟਲੁ ੇਰੈ ॥
ਦਰਸਨ ਿਪਆਸ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਮਿਨ ਮੇਰੈ ॥ ਿਮਲੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਜਗਤ ਗੁਰ ਕੇਰੈ ॥
kavan kahaan ha‐o gun pari‐a tayrai. baran na saaka‐o ayk tulayrai.
darsan pi‐aas bahuṯ man mayrai.mil, naanak, dayv jagat gur kayrai.

Meaning: I cannot narrate even some of them. O! my dear, how many of Your attributes, I can relate to? In my mind is great thirst to realize you. Nanak says, O Gurdev of the world (i.e. God), please meet me (i.e. dwell within my mind).

Besides these verses, the words Dev or Deo are found in about 150 verses in the SGGS (pp. 108, 155,405, 469, 479, 522, 694, 795‐96, 871, 943, 1129, 1142, 1149, 1172‐73, 1180, 1183, 1338, 1353, 1389 etc). In all these verses Dev and Deo have been used in the meaning of the Creator Lord or His light and not as suffix of any name (even of the Gurus). For example, we have the following verses on page 405, 522, 943, 1142, 1150 and 1180 respectively of the SGGS:

ਕਾਮੁ ਕੋਧੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਿਬਨਸੈ ਿਮਲੈ ਸਿਤਗੁਰ ਦੇਵ ॥ kaam krodh ahankaar binsai, milai satgur dayv.
With this the cupidity, the anger, the ego vanishes, and one meets the divine Guru.

ਮਿਹਮਾ ਕਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਇ ਗੁਰ ਸਮਰਥ ਦੇਵ ॥ mahimaa kahee na jaa‐ay, gur samrath dayv.

None can say the praise of all powerful, Gurdev.

ਘਿਟਘਿਟਸੁੰਨਕਾਜਾਣੈਭੇਉ॥ ਆਿਦਪੁਰਖੁਿਨਰੰਜਨਦੇਉ॥

ghat ghat sunn kaa jaanai bhay‐o. aad purakh niranjan day‐o.

If one who knows the secret, the void is in all bodies. He is the Primal Purkah, the taintless God.

ਗੁਰ ਜੈਸਾ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੋ ਦੇਵ ॥ ਿਜਸੁ ਮਸਤਿਕ ਭਾਗੁ ਸੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਸੇਵ ॥

gur jaisaa naahee ko dayv. jis masṯak bhaag so laagaa sayv.

None is light (of knowledge) like Guru. One, for whom is preodained, he is serving Him.

ਹਿਰਿਸਮਰਤਿਕਛੁਚਾਖੁਨਜੋਹੈ॥ ਹਿਰਿਸਮਰਤਦੈਤਦੇਉਨਪੋਹੈ॥

har simrat kichh chaakh na johai. har simrat dait day‐o na pohai.

Remembering God one’s evil eye will not touch (see) you. Remembering God, the (fear of) biggest demon (daint day‐o i.e., here, deo/biggest/chief among daints) cannot get hold.

ਰੰਗੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਅਿਤ ਲਾਲ ਦੇਵ ॥ rang laagaa at laal dayv.
(I am) in deep red colour (i.e. in deep love) of my God.​

Now, in all these verses Deo/Dev has been used for God Waheguru or His light; and at one place it also means 'chief' (e.g. 'daint' and 'day‐o’ i.e. demons). So Dev/Deo has nothing to do with the name of the Gurus.

In the SGGS, there is a Vaar (ballad) by Satta and Balwand which mentions the names of the first five Gurus. They definitely knew the correct names of the Gurus. But they have not used “Dev” anywhere for any Guru.

Bhatt Baani is also a part of the SGGS. These Bhatts were court poets of the Guru Arjun. Similarly, none of them have used “Dev” for any Guru. Bhai Gurdas, who scribed their verses in the Pothi Sahib and Guru Arjan Sahib who approved the scribe, surely had knowledge of the names of the Gurus. If the suffix “Dev” had been omitted, by Satta‐Balwand or the Bhatts, by error, Guru Arjan or Bhai Gurdas would have corrected it. This proves that Guru Arjan too did not use Dev for any Guru.

The argument that “Dev” should be added to the names of any of our Guru is therefore fallacious.

I was once reminded by the late Sardar Gurmit Singh of Australia of words seemingly appearing as suffixes to Nanak within the SGGS. These words are: Nanak Neech, Nanak Soami, Nanak Saiar, Nanak Sohan, Nanak Sahib, Nanak Sant, Nanak Sadhu, Nanak Sadh, Nanak Sevak, Nanak Giani, Nanak Gur, Nanak Gurmukh, Nanak Yogi, Nanak Jachak, Nanak Jan, Nanak Das, Nanak Dasan, Nanak Data, Nanak Deen, Nanak Bhagat, Nanak Murakh, Nanak Raj, Nanak Ram, Nanak Lal, Nanak Vichara, Nanak Garib, Nanak Chand and more.

Should we then adopt any or all of these as suffixes (like “Dev”) to Guru Nanak’s name?


USAGE OF “DEV” IN NON GURBANI SOURCES

Early sources of Guru Nanak's life include Wilayat Wali Janamsakhi, Meharban Wali Janamsakhi, Bhai Bala Wali Janamsakhi, Bhai Mani Singh Wali Janamsakhi (attributed to him), and Puratan Janamsakhi etc. None of these used “Dev” as suffix of Guru Nanak's name.

The 'ardas', approved by the S.G.P.C. and released from Akal Takht, begins with a stanza from Bachittar Natak Granth BNG (wrongly attributed to Guru Gobind Singh). How and through what conspiracy this stanza became a part of the Sikh Ardas during the Mahants' period is not the subject of this essay; but this 'ardas' too does not use “Dev” as suffix of the name of any Guru:

pirtham bhagauti simar kay gur nanak layee dhiayei. phir angad ṯe gur amardaas, raamdaasay hoyiee sahayei. arjan hargobind no, simrau sri harrai.

In fact, the author of BNG (it is not Guru Gobind Singh) mentions the names of all the Gurus but he too does not use DEV with any Guru's name. Of Guru Nanak, the BNG author writes: Ṯin bedian ki kul bikhayei pragatei nanak Rai. He uses “Rai” and not “Dev”. Clearly then, both these suffixes of Rai and Dev to Guru Nanak’s name are arbitrary additions in recent writings

There is a substantial number of vaars (ballads) in Punjabi which preserve the history of the Guru period. Most of these were written between seventeenth and early nineteenth century.

These include: Raamkali Di Vaar (Satta & Balwand), Vaar Babey Nanak Ji Ki (Bhai Gurdas), Karhkhay Patshah Dasven Kay (Sain Singh), Paurian Guru Gobind Singh Ji Kian (Mir Mushki & Chhabila), Yudh Guru Gobind Singh Ji Ka (Ani Rai), Vaar Patshahi Dasvin Ki (author unknown), Vaar Bhayrei Ki Patshahi Das (author unknown), Vaar Bhangani Ki (author unknown), Yudh‐Charitra Guru Gobind Singh Ji Ka (Veer Singh Ball), Vaar Amritsar Ki (Darshan Bhagat), and Vaar Sarb Loh Ki (author unknown), and Vaar Kalyan Ki (Khushal Chand).

In all of these vaars, nowhere has “Dev” been used as suffix to the name of any Guru.


THE WRITINGS OF BHAI GURDAS

Bhai Gurdas has used the word DEO or DEV in several verses of his vaars e.g. vaar 3 (pauris 2 and 12), vaar 13 (pauri 25), vaar 15 (pauri 2), etc. But in these verses Dev/Deo is not a part of any Guru's name but it means 'manifested'. Further, he has used DEO/DEV in vaar 24 (pauri 25), where the words ‘deo japaiya...’ means ‘the Guru advocated realization of the Creator’ (here “Deo” means God, the Creator). In vaar 28 (pauri 11), 'Dev' means 'devta/god' and it is not a suffix of any Guru's name.

Bhai Gurdas's 1st vaar depicts the life and role of the Guru Sahibs and in the whole vaar the word “Dev” has not been used even once. In this vaar, pauris 23 to 45 are life story of Guru Nanak Sahib and pauris 45 to 48 are about the lives of Guru Angad to Guru Hargobind Sahib. In these 26 pauris too the word “Dev” as suffix is missing.

Surely Bhai Gurdas would not have resorted to writing the incomplete name of Guru Sahibs?


USAGE OF “DEV” IN HISTORICAL SOURCES

The Bhatt Vahis (by various Bhatts, including Mathra and Keerat, the poets of SGGS) and Panda Vahis (of Hardwar, Pehowa, and Mattan etc) were written during the times of Gur Sahibs. None of the entry‐writers of these records used “Dev” for any Guru.

The Sikh history books written during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries include the works by Sainapati, Koer Singh, Kesar Singh Chhibber, Sawrup Singh Kaushish, Ratan Singh Bhangoo, Sukhbasi Ram Bedi etc. None of these has used “Dev” as suffix of the name of any Guru. Dev is missing even from the Nirmala writings.


THE NIRMALAS AND ILLITERATE POLITICIANS ARE RESPONSIBLE

The usage of Dev began with Nirmala and Brahmin writers after 1850s. The first Sikh to popularize it was Nirmala Bhai Veer Singh. Though he used Dev but his action was still not followed up by serious Sikh scholars. It was only after 1972 that “Dev” became an epidemic and Guru Nanak Sahib's name was changed into Guru Nanak Dev.

In 1972, Zail Singh became the chief minister of the Punjab. It was he who changed the name of Guru Nanak University Amritsar into Guru Nanak Dev University. Being illiterate Zail Singh did not have sufficient knowledge of Sikh history or philosophy. He had been a ‘ritual‐performing priest’ but had never done serious study of Sikhism. He was thus not expected to know the real name of Guru Nanak Sahib.

Zail Singh’s lack of literacy is further evident of his decision to change the name of ancient region Rupar into Rupnagar. He believed the name was not RUPAR but RO+PAR meaning 'to begin weeping'). Later, in 1997‐98, chief minister P. S. Badal too followed Zail Singh and changed the name of Guru Nanak Thermal Plant Bathinda to ‘Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant’.

Later, Guru Arjan Sahib and lastly Guru Angad Sahib's names too were changed first by the vedic slant writers and then by novice Sikh writers, and finally by the ignorant Sikh leaders who popularized “Dev” as suffix of the name of Guru Angad Sahib. Manjit Singh Calcutta, the Secretary of the SGPC in 2004, played a major role, under the influence of a particular semi‐literate employee of the SGPC. This practice was then followed by the common folk.

There is a verse on page 767 in the SGGS that depicts the consequences of following un‐enlightened leaders as follows:

ਅੰਧਾ ਆਗੂ ਜੇ ਥੀਐ ਿਕਉ ਪਾਧਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ॥ ਆਿਪ ਮੁਸੈ ਮਿਤ ਹੋਛੀਐ ਿਕਉ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥

andhaa aagoo jay thee‐ai ki‐o paadhar jaaṇai. aap musai mat hochhee‐ai ki‐o raahu pachhaaṇai.

How can a blind leader who is lost in his own ignorance even find his own way, let alone show others the way?

Enlightened Sikhs have continued referring to Guru Nanak, Guru Angad and Guru Arjan Sahib by their authentic and original names.
It doesn’t matter what he’s called, as long as you know who he is it’s fine.

Don’t waste your time or life on semantics.
 

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
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Sometimes semantics are important because these can change the basic perception of how we see things...
Spot On Aman Ji....while we were "sleeping"....our Gurus became Dev....and while we are still sleeping.plans are afoot to Change DARBAR SAHIB (name bestowed by Guru Arjun Sahib Ji himself) to HARIMANDIR...and by association to VISHNU MANDIR (via sakhis being widely spread as Parchaar). DARBAR SAHIB is the darbar of Akal Purakh....its not a Mandir. 2. The Word HA(siharee)Rmandir Har with SIHAREE and NOT BIHAREE are two different words.....3. This Word is most used by GURU AMARDASS JI...and it refers SOLELY to HUMAN BODY (as the Darbar Sahib was built much later by Guru Arjun Ji) (meaning it didnt exist when the word was used in Gurbani. So YES..semantics are not just necessary..they are VITAL .
 

Gyani Jarnail Singh

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Just consider how the GREAT TRAVELS of Guru Nanak ji to SPREAD HIS Message have been misnamed as "UDASEES"......Guru nanak Ji DID NOT "leave home" like udasees do..to "search for ???God, Nirvana..or whatever".....Guru nanak ji left HOME to do parchaar....the same Parchaar Guru TEG BAHADUR ji did many decades Later...."udasee" doesnt capture the concept at all.....2....and the UDASEE SECT as pictured by Baba SRI CHAND...is a completely different concept to what Guru nanak Ji did !!!
 

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ਸੋਰਠਿ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ਘਰੁ ੨ ਚਉਪਦੇ ॥


Sorath Mehla 5 Ghar 2 Chaupadey.



SGGS Page 612


ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥ Ek Pita Ekus Kay Hum Barak Tu Mera Gur Hayi.


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